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5/5 MLB DFS: Calling our shot with a Kris Bryant HR

5/5 MLB DFS: Calling our shot with a Kris Bryant HR
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MLB Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 5th, 2015 – Kris Bryant is a top DFS value play

Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.

Glossary: See a term you’re unfamiliar with? Check out our glossary page. If there’s something you’d like to see added there, please email us at

Weather: Once again, the ARI-COL game is in danger. There are a few other minor concerns outside of that game. Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.

If any weather situations shift drastically, we will keep you updated with lineup alerts so make sure to check your email inbox up until roster lock.


Top Play:

Evan Gattis (HOU) – While the Astros disappointed us big time last night, they are once again a team to target, carrying a team total approaching five, which puts them right in line with the two teams playing in Coors Field for the highest expected scoring team on the night. Gattis has immense upside as the team’s cleanup hitter and best power hitting “catcher” in the league. He has a career .235 ISO and when looking at his splits against just southpaws the ISO jumps up to .247 and is accompanied by a .354 wOBA. Just like yesterday, Gattis will face a well below average LHP. ZiPS projects Wandy Rodriguez to be awful (5.04 ERA, 1.56 HR/9) and through two starts the soft tossing LHP has walked as many batters as he has struck out, as he’s been unable to generate swing and misses or get opposing hitters to chase.

Value Play:

Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann and Gattis rank as similar per dollar values in our model, but McCann’s cheaper price tag may make it easier to lock in the values you want at other positions. He won’t have the friendly short porch in right but Toronto is still a hitter friendly environment. Most importantly, McCann and the entire Yankee team will have big time HR upside against the fly ball oriented Estrada, who is neither built to pitch in the AL East nor this ballpark specifically. Daniel Norris‘ struggles have pushed Estrada from the bullpen to the rotation, and since 2012 he’s allowed 1.44 HR/9 to LHBs.

Additional catcher notes: The red hot Stephen Vogt (OAK) has made some legitimate strides at the plate, which at least somewhat backup his hot start (great EYE, strong LD rate, HR/FB rate unsustainable though). In a less favorable hitting environment (Target Field), I think he’s a tournament option but couldn’t argue if you chose to ride out his hot streak with the platoon advantage against the hittable Trevor May (especially on DraftKings where he’s less than Gattis/McCann). Nick Hundley (COL) and Jordan Pacheco (ARI) are viable alternatives where cheaper, solely due to scoring environment (high teams totals in Coors Field). Alex Avila (DET) is a tournament option as he’ll have the platoon edge on a struggling Jeff Samardzija in hitter friendly US Cellular Field. In that same game, Tyler Flowers (CHW) is a near minimum priced punt option in tournaments who has some semblance of power upside.

First Base

Top Play:

Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – “Goldschmidt is the top hitter in our model and it’s by a wide margin. He’s historically crushed LHP (.444 wOBA, .291 ISO since 2012) and he receives a rare positive ballpark shift playing in Coors Field. Tyler Matzek has struggled with RHBs (.368 wOBA allowed as a big leaguer) and the Diamondbacks lineup is loaded with them. Goldschmidt is exceptionally pricey around the industry and the options at first base are rather deep. He looks like a better tournament play due to opportunity cost.” Wow, that was a really good blurb by me. Okay, I didn’t write it. Drew did yesterday but due to the rainout the matchups are unchanged for ARI/COL players. Despite Goldschmidt’s expensive tag, he actually rates as the best per dollar value in our model. That’s how sweet the matchup is. However, as Drew mentioned, opportunity cost is really high. Sometimes the best value, as odd as it sounds, doesn’t lend itself towards optimal lineup construction for cash games. That’s probably the case here. If you can make it work, I applaud you. If not, don’t sweat it, but get some tournament exposure. Unfortunately this diatribe may be moot as the weather in Coors Field is once again not cooperating and we may be headed for a second straight cancellation.

Next in line:

Jose Abreu (CHW) – Abreu is a much more usable high-ticket item in cash games as he doesn’t force you to do quite as much punting at other positions as rostering Goldschmidt would. Abreu’s home park is the fourth best park for right handed hitters (tied for second best when looking at just HRs, according to Fangraphs park factors by handedness). He won’t have the platoon edge today but will face Shane Greene, who has disappointed thus far this season after an impressive rookie campaign with the Yankees. Based on Greene’s Minor League numbers, it’s not a huge surprise his K rate has regresses, and a reduction in SwStr% supports the drop. With the velocity down a tick and Greene hovering around average in BB and GB rates, the reduced strikeout rate is a big deal. As it stands now, this is an average pitcher at best and that’s advantage Abreu.

Value Plays:

Chris Carter (HOU) – Carter is way underpriced on FanDuel ($2,600) but isn’t as valuable on DraftKings, where I’m tempted to simply pay up at the position since the value play options are all priced aggressively. Sure, Carter is a boom or bust option but at that low tag on FanDuel, the potential reward is too much to pass up. Only Mark Trumbo has a higher homerun score in our model for the day. With Carter, you could be looking at 2-3 Ks but could also fall into a double dong night while creating a lot of cap relief for the rest of your lineup. Hitting fifth for a team with such a high team total mitigates some risk as well (could end up with an RBI or RS even if individual success is limited).

Adam LaRoche (CHW) – LaRoche, similar to Carter, is a better value on FanDuel than DraftKings though he is cash game viable on both sites. We’ve discussed how mediocre Shane Greene has looked overall this season, but even with last year’s success he was always susceptible to LHBs. He’s now faced 256 LHBs and allowed a .343 wOBA thanks to a healthy LD rate and subpar K rate. LaRoche has some ugly plate discipline numbers early on (34.5 K percentage, 50 percent GB rate). I’m not freaking out over that a month in, but it’s something to keep in mind when weighing options that are close to one another. His overall splits since 2012 against RHP are decent (around a 130 wRC+ and .220 ISO) and now he’s in a much more favorable home park.

Additional first base notes: Justin Morneau (COL) is of course an option with the platoon edge in Coors, but he’s turning into a ground ball machine so you still want to be price sensitive. On DraftKings, where Carter and LaRoche are priced a bit more aggressively, Lucas Duda (NYM) becomes more valuable at a similar price. He’s great against RHP and Bud Norris (who is struggling overall to begin the year) has allowed a .361 wOBA and 1.30 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. An expensive tournament option is Miguel Cabrera (DET) due to upshift in park factor, strong overall skill and facing a pitcher in Jeff Samardzija who has so far struggled in his transition to the AL. Mid-tier tournament options include Pedro Alvarez (PIT) (bad park but rookie RHP Michael Lorenzen gave up three HRs in his MLB debut and projects to have an ERA somewhere around 4.50-5.00) and Prince Fielder (TEX) (not sure the power ever fully returns but a good matchup against RHP Scott Feldman who doesn’t strike anyone out). Cheap tournament options are Ike Davis (OAK) (bad park but Trevor May has struggled with LHBs and allows hard contact) and Mike Napoli (BOS) (cheap considering he’s holding the platoon edge at home).

Second Base

Top Play:

Jose Altuve (HOU) – Death, taxes and Jose Altuve against LHP. While that phrase is overused, it’s tough to overuse Altuve against LHP. He has a career .387 wOBA and .137 ISO against LHP, with the splits improving greatly in 2014-15. With those numbers he’d be a solid outfield option but when you throw in the elite stolen base upside and second base eligibility, he becomes a great option, even at an expensive price tag. Plus, ever since Altuve drastically cut down his K rate starting in 2014, he’s able to hold his own against RHP, allowing him to maintain his upside throughout a ballgame. Similar to Goldschmidt, Altuve projects as a top per dollar value at his position despite the high price tag, but opportunity cost makes it a bit difficult to have full exposure in cash games.

Value Plays:

Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker is way too cheap on FanDuel for $2,700. He’s a much better hitter from the left side of the plate as evidence by a wRC+ hovering around 130 the past few seasons with an ISO right around .200. Those are strong numbers for a middle infielder, and he’s hitting cleanup for a solid Pirates team that possesses a good four team total against rookie RHP Michael Lorenzen.

Aaron Hill (ARI) – From Drew yesterday: “Hill has hit LHP well the last few years. When given the opportunity, Hill has posted a .341 wOBA and .184 ISO against lefties. His playing time is very inconsistent, so you’ll need confirmation that he’s in the lineup to deploy him. If in the lineup, he’s a Top 30 hitter in our model and not priced accordingly around the industry.”

Additional second base notes: Howie Kendrick (LAD) is someone I’d rather not use in a R/R matchup but he’s in a great lineup spot, good ballpark and fairly priced against a declining pitcher in Matt Garza. I’d prefer to use him as part of a Dodgers stack in tournaments but he’s cash game viable. Teammate Alex Guerrero (LAD) is quite frankly probably the better hitter of the two and is much cheaper. If he can find his way into a top five or six lineup spot, he’d be an excellent source of salary cap relief in cash games (particularly on DraftKings). Drew Smyly is a solid overall pitcher but Dustin Pedroia (BOS), who is off to a strong start, still pops as a good tournament option at a very reasonable price. Stephen Drew (NYY) (HR upside, value if top five or six in the order), Rougned Odor (TEX) (cheap and good matchup against Scott Feldman) and Micah Johnson (CHW) (nice speed upside, especially given that Alex Avila is below average at throwing runners out) are low priced tournament options at the position.


Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Our thoughts on Tulowitzki remain unchanged from yesterday, as does his matchup: “In Coors Field, Tulowitzki is clearly the top option at his position. He ranks inside our Top Five hitters overall, but he’s priced appropriately. In general, it will be difficult to fit Tulowitzki into your lineups which makes him a better tournament option.”

Additional shortstop notes: At a scarce shortstop position, the secondary options also have a familiar ring. Chris Owings (ARI) would be the best one if he gets a top five or six lineup spot. He has some semblance of speed/power but most importantly is the platoon edge he holds against Tyler Matzek (.368 wOBA allowed to RHBs) in Coors Field. We are definitely underwhelmed with 36 year old Jimmy Rollins‘ (LAD) projected offensive numbers. However, a top of the order lineup spot and cheap price tag make him a logical cash game target on most sites. Rollins still has some stolen base upside and opposing pitcher Matt Garza has been very shaky through five starts (1.46 K/BB ratio; career mark is 2.51). Mike Aviles (CLE) is a punt option as he’ll likely hit second for a Cleveland team that faces a soft tossing southpaw in Jason Vargas. Vargas has been getting away with fringe stuff for years, but his effectiveness has really waned early on, as he’s yielding more power and producing less strikeouts. Marcus Semien (OAK) isn’t a great option as his price tag has risen and he lacks the platoon edge in a pitcher’s park. However, he’s got decent pop in a good lineup spot and opposing pitcher Trevor May allows higher than league average LD and FB rates. Ian Desmond (WAS) is a tournament option as Mat Latos continues to have scary peripherals; if he moves up in the order he can be considered in cash games.

Third Base

Top Play:

Nolan Arenado (COL) – Collmenter has been getting away with his low velocity stuff for a few years, but his average fastball velocity has now dipped to 84.3 mph, a 1.7 mph drop from last season and 2.5 mph below his career mark. It’s tough to envision him coming out of Coors Field unscathed with that type of stuff, especially considering he’s currently allowing a 26.4 LD rate. I’ve talked quite a bit about my affection for Arenado’s HR upside relative to where the market set it coming into this season. So far so good as he continues to make plenty of contact (in fact the 7.6 K percentage he currently sports is insanely low for a hitter of his type) and hit the ball in the air (encouraging 41.8 FB rate has grown to 45 this season while maintaining a solid LD rate).

Value Plays:

Kris Bryant (CHC) – If the Rockies game gets washed out, you’ll have some cap relief to spend elsewhere and the guy I’m eyeing up is Kris Bryant. Despite the low ISO and lack of extra base hits, we’re really optimistic on him moving forward. When you combine ZiPS expectations (.232 ISO, 22 HRs in 110 games) with the patience (22.2 BB rate) and loft (52.8 FB rate) Bryant has shown in a small sample size, there is really no cause for concern. The power is coming. What better time for it to come than against a young southpaw in Tyler Lyons who has shown just a slightly above average GB rate in 89.2 MLB innings. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what to expect out of Lyons but Bryant (based on price relative to skills) is a great, low risk way to get exposure to the Cubs lineup tonight.

Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – In McCann’s blurb I mentioned Estrada’s high HR rate allowed to LHBs since 2012. Well, he hasn’t had much success keeping the ball in the yard against same handed batters either, giving up 1.39 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. Estrada has always had good K/BB ratios but his fly ball ways and a consistently elevated HR/FB rate (career mark of 12.1) makes it tough for him to escape any start without allowing at least one long ball. Rodriguez has looked surprisingly spry early on for the Yankees. His batted ball data (FB rate equal to career mark, LD rate has taken a few percentage points away from GB rate relative to career marks) is a very encouraging for the power numbers lasting (at least to some extent).

Additional third base notes: Josh Harrison (PIT) is leading off for a Pirates team with a decent team total, despite their pitcher friendly home park. He’s very cheap on FanDuel and viable on DraftKings as well if you want to pick on rookie Michael Lorenzen. The entire Pirates top of the lineup has some nice stolen base upside due to the combination of facing a rookie pitcher and a catcher in Brayan Pena who ranks among the worst at throwing out base runners. Yasmany Tomas (ARI) is of course an option in Coors Field, particularly on FanDuel where the price tag is a bit friendlier (expensive on DraftKings and only outfield eligible).


Expensive Targets:

A.J. Pollock/Mark Trumbo (ARZ) – “Pollock and Trumbo rank inside our Top 10 hitters overall and represent my primary targets in the outfield. Trumbo’s price point has largely corrected with his recent performance, but Pollock is underpriced and actually rates higher in our model. Pollock has posted a .355 wOBA and .209 ISO against LHP as a big leaguer while Trumbo has posted a .368 wOBA and .274 ISO against LHP. Pollock typically garners a better lineup spot and the speed component to his Fantasy value pushes him ahead of Trumbo in our model.” I’d also look towards Ender Inciarte (ARI) should he leadoff (sometimes does against LHP). He’s a cheap way to get exposure to this game on DraftKings.

Corey Dickerson/Charlie Blackmon (COL) – “Dickerson is forever a favorite of ours against RHP in Coors Field but teammate Charlie Blackmon has also done most of his damage against RHP in Coors (.392 wOBA, .178 ISO in his career). Both are priced appropriately around the industry. We prefer Dickerson as the spread has narrowed on the two price tags. Dickerson is the better overall hitter (.395 wOBA vs. .354 wOBA against RHP) and has more true power (.259 ISO vs. .164 ISO against RHP).” To add to what Drew said yesterday, despite hitting sixth Carlos Gonzalez also needs to be considered in all formats. The high GB rate and slow start is worrisome, but according to pitch/FX exit velocity, he’s making hard contact and that’s backed up by a 23.4 LD rate.

George Springer (HOU) – You know by now that I love my “event players”, guys that can boost you over that cash line due to their incredible individual upside via stolen bases or homeruns. Springer certainly qualifies as he has 30/30 upside over a full season and is running like mad to begin this year (already has 10 SBs). He also has some encouraging peripherals. His EYE has improved from .34 to .53 thanks to improvements in both his BB and K rates. Keeping the K rate under 30 percent is going to be important for Springer to have the BA at least be tolerable. He’s also making solid contact (26.6 LD rate). These improvements are a result of a reduction in both his chase and swinging strike rates. I like Springer’s HR/SB upside, his current profile and the matchup at home against LHP Wandy Rodriguez is delectable.

Mid-Tier Targets:

Joc Pederson (LAD) – Pederson continues to be underpriced on most sites across the industry, despite his recent tear. There’s not much to add here that we haven’t already said over the last several days. Pederson’s another “event” player and now is getting improved opportunities by becoming the team’s leadoff hitter. He’ll have the platoon edge against Matt Garza in Milwaukee.

Bryce Harper (WAS) – My distaste for Mat Latos is probably well known at this point. I wouldn’t go overboard picking on him in cash games, but on DraftKings where a lot of the other guys we are honed in on have their salaries inflated due to price/matchup, Harper looks out of place at just $4,300. Latos continues to pitch with the same reduced velocity he had last year and the results have been him allowing a ton of aerial contact and not missing bats. On the flip side, we are seeing glimpses of the Bryce Harper power breakout. Both his LD and FB rates are currently at career highs as a cut down on his chase rate has allowed him to increase his walk rate and swing at better pitches, resulting in better contact.

Gregory Polanco (PIT) – Polanco’s plate discipline early on is a bit disappointing but ZiPS expects that to improve over the course of the season, and at least he’s making solid contact (23.5 LD rate). Most importantly, he’ll have the platoon edge on rookie RHP Michael Lorenzen and offers a lot of stolen base upside as the combination of rookie pitcher/Brayan Pena projects to be easy to run on.

Cheap Targets:

Carlos Beltran (NYY) – I’d only consider Beltran on FanDuel as his peripherals aren’t good to begin the season, he’s aging and is a pinch hit risk late in ball games. With all that said, it’s difficult to find a middle of the order bat with power upside (.174 ZiPS projected ROS ISO) and the platoon edge in such a great matchup (Marco Estrada, Rogers Centre) all for near minimum salary. I may defer to a more balanced outfield on FanDuel, but if trying to squeeze in some high priced Coors Field options, Beltran may become a necessity.

Billy Burns (OAK) – Burns is a great source of salary cap relief on DraftKings ($2,700). Since being called up, he’s being used as the A’s leadoff hitter (Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld have been horrific offensively). Burns projects to have a well below average wOBA, but his elite stolen base upside (ZiPS projects 28 SBs in just 395 PAs) combined with a decent matchup against Trevor May makes him one of the best cheap options.

Allen Craig (BOS) – With Hanley Ramirez likely out, I’m hopeful that Allen Craig both draws the start and moves up in the order. He’s a pinch hit risk late in games but another very cheap, high upside option to buy you some cap relief on DraftKings. For his career Craig has posted a .358 wOBA and .228 ISO against LHP. Those are very good numbers, especially considering his home park of Bush Stadium for the vast majority of that time. He now calls Fenway Park home and this venue is a big boost for RHBs. Opposing pitcher Drew Smyly is an above average overall pitcher but slightly below average when he doesn’t hold the platoon edge (.326 wOBA, 1.12 HR/9 allowed to RHBs).

Additional outfield notes: There are a few sets of teammates that I’d consider as secondary values/tournament options: Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner (NYY) (great matchup, but don’t love the prices in light of comparable options at the same price), Melky Cabrera/Adam Eaton (CHW) (nice sources of salary cap relief on FanDuel) and Leonys Martin/Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) (Rangers are an underrated stacks against a pitch to contact guy in Scott Feldman). The Tigers outfield is one to target in tournaments as they get a nice park boost and Jeff Samardzija has been struggling. Kevin Kiermaier (TB) is someone I feel the market overrates (MLB splits against RHP have been much better than they project to be moving forward), but he’s still a good source of cap relief if he leads off. He gets a park boost moving to Fenway and Rick Porcello has difficulties containing LHBs. In that same game, Mookie Betts (BOS) has nice HR/SB upside with the platoon edge, although it’s probably best to hold your exposure there to tournaments.

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier 1

1) Stephen Strasburg (WAS) (weather risk)

2) Zack Greinke (LAD)

Tier 2

3) Michael Pineda (NYY)

Tier 3

4) Andrew Cashner (SD)

5) Garrett Richards (LAA)

6) Danny Salazar (CLE)

Tier 4

7) Shelby Miller (ATL)

8) Jesse Chavez (OAK)

9) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

10) Tyler Lyons (STL)

Top Play:

Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – Strasburg is off to a bit of a slow start both due to elements within his control (low 7.5 SwStr%) and those outside of it (.402 BABIP). Strasburg was plagued with one of the highest BABIPs in the league through the season’s first month in 2014 but it normalized over the rest of the season. Expect the same to happen this year as his .402 BABIP is 99 points higher than his career mark. As for the low SwStr%, that’s certainly an element of concern for a pitcher who needs to get punch outs to be effective. However, Strasburg gas generated a double digit SwStr% in two of his past three starts and it appears to be getting back to normal after a slow start. There’s also no change in Strasburg’s velocity or usage by pitch type to suggest the inability to miss bats is legitimate. Any concern is also quelled by a favorable home matchup against a Marlins team that is currently 20th in wRC+ against RHP with the eighth highest K rate. Those numbers mesh with the ZiPS projections for their lineup, and Christian Yelich‘s absence is a nice bonus for opposing RHPs. Strasburg is currently the largest favorite on the day at -174 and only the SD-SF game has a lower total. With Strasburg not sharp to begin the year, he’s an affordable ace for cash games on both single and multi starting pitcher sites.

Next in line:

Zack Greinke (LAD) – While I prefer Strasburg to Greinke, you could make the case for Greinke as your cash game anchor. Greinke has posted sub 2.75 ERAs in back to back seasons for the Dodgers and is off to a strong start this year (1.93) in an effort to make that three years in a row. He’s above average in all three major skill categories (K, BB and GB rates). He hasn’t missed as many bats early on, causing a rise to his xFIP – but nothing to be overly concerned about. Like Strasburg, Greinke is a heavy favorite (-169). He’ll face a struggling Brewers team that is still without Jonathan Lucroy and Scooter Gennett. I don’t think they’ll be as much of a breeze for opposing pitchers as they were over the first month (Gomez is back; Braun/Ramirez showing signs of life) but this heavily right handed lineup is currently 26th in wRC+ against RHP with the fourth highest K rate. Even with some improvement expected it’s a favorable matchup for Greinke. The main reason he’s separated from Strasburg today is a worse park environment for pitchers and being on the road.

Value Plays:

Michael Pineda (NYY) – I really can’t say enough good things about Pineda as it’s all working for him right now. He has a 25.2 K percentage, 1.6 BB percentage and 54.9 GB rate. That’s elite marks in three major skill categories and the K and BB rates are supported by a superb 11.1 SwStr% and 67.7 F-Strike%. Put it all together and Pineda has a 2.21 FIP and 2.45 xFIP. He hasn’t realized those expected ERAs due to an unlucky .344 BABIP and 69.3 LOB%. Given Pineda’s low LD rate allowed and high K rate, those luck factors should regress towards his career marks respectively of .261 (perhaps he settles into the league average BABIP of .290-.310 since this career mark is rather low) and 72 percent. Pineda doesn’t have a great matchup in a good hitter’s park against a good offense. However, Jose Reyes is out, the studs for the Jays are all right handed and the bottom of the lineup is not good at all right now.

Additional starting pitcher notes:

Andrew Cashner (SD) is my favorite alternative in both cash and tournament formats to the written up options. His velocity is higher than it’s been the past two seasons (averaging 95.1 mph on his fastball), which (along with natural progression based on the skill set that was already in place) has led to an 11.7 SwStr% and 26.9 K percentage through five starts. Both marks are at career high levels. If the Giants swung and missed a bit more, we’d be even higher on Cashner, but he’s not solely dependent on strikeouts for success. He’s got an above average BB rate and has generated a GB rate of 50.8 over his career, which is superb. There’s a ton of upside here. Garrett Richards (LAA) was phenomenal in his breakout 2014 campaign but between some expected regression in his K rate and overall statistics (according to ZiPS and Steamer projection systems) and not being that sharp through three starts after opening up the year on the DL, Richards is a secondary value rather than a primary target. Danny Salazar (CLE) has seen a complete return to the velocity he had when he dominated for a stretch in 2013. His K and SwStr% are currently at absurd levels as a result, giving him strong K upside even against a contact heavy Royals team. Between that and a low BB rate, Salazar can be used in tournaments on all sites and is a secondary value on multi-SP sites. The issue with Salazar is that he gives up hard contact when opposing batters are able to put the ball in play (elevated LD and HR/FB rates). Shelby Miller (ATL) may be a popular choice and while he’s a relatively safe option, the subpar K/BB ratio and a Phillies lineup that doesn’t K a ton cap his upside. Jesse Chavez (OAK) is pretty cheap on DraftKings and can be utilized as a second pitcher there. He’ll give you an above average K rate with an average ERA and last around six innings. The pitching environment is positive today (Target Field) and the Twins lineup (particularly up top) is much more favorable for RHPs. Tyler Lyons (STL) is one of my favorite tournament options if you want to go very cheap at SP and load up on bats. I wouldn’t touch him in cash games but there’s K upside here at home in a favorable pitcher’s park. Another risky cheap pitcher option (DraftKings specifically) is Ryan Vogelsong (SF). He’s not a good pitcher but an average K rate in a great pitcher’s park against a heavily right handed team that will swing and miss gives him potential at such a low price.

Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:

This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Coors Field

2) Houston Astros

3) New York Yankees

The first two are the chalk stacks you want to concentrate on in cash games. The ARI-COL game has by far the highest team total, and the Diamondbacks are particularly in a good position given how they project against LHP. The Astros surprisingly have a team total approaching that of the Coors Field teams. Wandy Rodriguez is an over the hill southpaw, and the Astros hitters (even towards the bottom of the lineup) are flooded with either power or speed upside or both.

I’d be surprised if you didn’t get at least one homerun from the Yankee lineup. Sometimes the frustrating part about picking on a guy like Estrada (not a bad wOBA allowed but a ton of power) is if you fail to pick the one or two guys that home off of him, you can end up disappointing. With that said, the majority of this lineup will have the platoon edge and should be able to take advantage of Estrada’s fly ball risky ways in a hitter’s park.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Pittsburgh Pirates

2) Washington Nationals

3) Chicago White Sox

4) Los Angeles Dodgers

5) Texas Rangers

6) Detroit Tigers

7) Chicago Cubs

8) San Diego Padres

The Pirates are tough to go overboard on in cash games due to their pitcher friendly home park. However, this game could get into the bullpen early with rookie RHP Michael Lorenzen on the mound. We’ve talked about the issues he had in his first start, the pessimistic projections systems and our optimism for the Pittsburgh running game.

I’ll be stacking tournament teams against Mat Latos until the day I die. Or at least until he regains some velocity and handle on aerial/hard hit contact allowed.

The White Sox will have guys holding the platoon edge at the top of the lineup, complemented by an elite hitter in Jose Abreu. Shane Greene has been bad against LHBs in his short career and the peripherals are a bit of a mess to start the season since he isn’t missing any bats. He’s had one disaster start this year against Cleveland, and we could see another one tonight. As an added bonus, Alex Avila is not very adept at throwing out runners so cheap guys to round out the stack such as Micah Johnson have upside as well.

The Dodgers are a nice stack for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s pretty easy to construct. Pederson is an excellent individual value, the scarce positions are covered by guys with very reasonable price tags (Kendrick, Rollins, Grandal) and Adrian Gonzalez is always a high upside option against RHP. They get a nice park shift moving to Milwaukee against the declining Matt Garza.

This Texas Rangers offense has been so overrated for so long that I think we’ve reversed course and can now call it underrated. At the very least you aren’t overpaying much for anyone here given how bad the offense has been, which enables you to full stack a team in Houston against Scott Feldman (worst K rate of any pitcher in action) and still have room to pay up for top tier pitching and good stack fillers.

The Cubs may whiff a lot but boy do they have some power and speed upside and a pretty deep lineup. With a bit of uncertainty surrounding the expectations for Tyler Lyons 2015 MLB debut, it makes sense go get some tournament exposure to the Cubbies.

The Tigers are simply a deep, talented offense getting a big park shift. While the opposing pitcher (Jeff Samardzija) is one you wouldn’t normally stack against, he’s coming off a disaster start, has struggled in his first go around in the AL and has pretty pessimistic projections relative to the numbers he posted last season (systems are calling for an ERA around 4).

The final stack is the San Diego Padres. I can’t go an entire article without picking on Ryan Vogelsong. While no one on this team rates as a good individual value (it’s a bad park and the best pitters are without the platoon edge), the wind is blowing out rather strongly to center field and Vogelsong, who has a FB rate well higher than his career mark, has allowed eight HRs already this season. The Padres outfield trio of Myers, Kemp and Upton all have HR/SB upside.

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

In the scales below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 has no impact on the game. On the scales used below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 should not impact the game at all.

MIA at WSH 7:05: A 10-20% chance of a few showers. Should not be a big problem, would not even expect a delay. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to left. Thew wind is a 6.  UPDATE: This situation is worsening a bit but it still looks like we’re just fighting a delay to begin the game, which shouldn’t affect pitchers too much.

CIN at PIT 7:05: 30-40% chance of showers at anytime. This is NOT a steady, soaking rain, it is rather light and short-lived. At worst, there is a short delay. 20-30% chance of a delay, <10% chance of a cancellation or stoppage of play that can not start up. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind east becoming southeast at very light speeds (3-6 mph). The wind is a 5.

NYY at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the low to mid 50s. Not sure if the roof will be closed or open. If it is open, air density is a 5. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.

TB at BOS 7:10: A 10% chance of a brief shower. Not a big deal. Temps in the mid 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

PHL at ATL 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.

BLT at NYM 7:10: A few showers around, maybe a rumble of thunder. 30-40% chance of showers, not worried about a cancellation or stoppage of play that can not begin again (<10% of either), <20% chance of a short delay. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

DET at CHW 8:10: A scattered shower around. Much like the other games, not terribly concerned about a cancellation. <20% chance of a delay. Temps near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.

CLE at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.

LAD at MIL 8:10: A 30% chance of showers. So I will assume the roof will be closed.

OAK at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind southeast 7-14 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.

TEX at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. Showers/thunderstorms will be around. I will assume the roof will be closed.

CHC at STL 8:15: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to the low 70s. Air density is a 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.

AZ at COL 8:40: weather not all that different than yesterday. There will be periods of rain around. 50% chance of both a cancellation or a delay if they start the game. Basically, highly concerned about this game. Temps in near 50 falling to the mid 40s. Air density is a 6. Wind east becoming south at 8-16 mph which blows from right to left and then out to center. The wind is a 5 becoming a 6.

SEA at LAA 10:05: dry. Temps in the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

SD at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind west 12-25 mph lessening a bit to 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.

MLB Daily Analysis